Attrition and the Act of Contrition prayer


Hello, everyone. I have a question pertaining to how the specific contrition of an individual (i.e. imperfect as opposed to perfect,) relates to the Act of Contrition prayer they would recite in Confession.

I initially learned, and still use, the following prayer for my Act of Contrition: “Oh God, I am heartily sorry for having offended thee, and I detest all my sins because of thy just punishment, but most of all, because they offend thee, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of thy Grace, to sin no more, and to avoid near occasions of sin. Amen.”

The prayer (as well as most of the others I am aware of) states that the penitent is most sorry for offending God, as opposed to the punishments warranted by mortal sins. Now, if the penitent had made an Act of Imperfect Contrition (i.e. was more sorry for their sins due to the threat of punishment, as opposed to offending God,) would the penitent then have to use a different Act of Contrition prayer?


Nope. The same prayer is used.


The genius of the traditional Act of Contrition is that if said attentively and devoutly, it can stir real perfect contrition (although we can never be fully certain of it), and addresses both the perfect and imperfect types.

I’m of the thought that there’s a very good likelihood that your contrition can be perfect if you actively and devoutly mean the words, “and deserving of all my love.” You don’t have to “feel” it, as true sorrow for sin is an act of the will.


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